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Guest view: Marijuana's many downsides

Guest view: Marijuana's many downsides

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I am sure that most of you have seen some of the recent headlines about increased alcohol and drugs consumption during the pandemic.

The great lie that has been perpetuated by the alcohol and drug industry that these substances will reduce stress and make our lives better. In fact, the opposite is true, they increase stress and other problems.

Marijuana is a $50 billion industry just in the US. Make no mistake about it, at the end of the day this is really what it is about. The marijuana industry does not care about helping people. All it cares about is money. This is no different than what is happening/happened with big pharma — the opioid crisis. The marijuana industry is using the same playbook as big tobacco used in the '60s and '70s to normalize cigarettes.

We are concerned about the health and safety of our kids and don't want to repeat history. The American people have been duped into believing that marijuana is the new wonder drug and the marijuana industry has done an outstanding job of marketing and normalizing this addictive, dangerous drug only to make money.

Why should we be concerned? The most well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), but cannabis contains over 500 compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and others. THC is responsible for most of the plant’s psychotropic effects (the high), and the potency of cannabis has increased from an average concentration of 4% THC in 1995 to 12% THC in 2014 and from 8.9% in 2008 to 17.1% in 2017.

Aside from smoking marijuana; edible cannabis products such as brownies, cookies, gummy candies and other products infused with cannabis are being sold. Liquid or wax formulations with high concentrations of THC, called concentrates, are becoming increasingly popular. Tested concentrate can contain over 90% THC. Commercially extracted concentrates are sold in dispensaries along with all the other mentioned items.

Perception of risk of cannabis use is declining. 

There are many chronic effects of long-term cannabis use, such as increased risk of schizophrenia or psychosis in those with a genetic predisposition or pre-existing psychotic disorders, an increased risk of psychosis in individuals with regular heavy use in adolescence. and is associated with persistent decreased cognitive function. Regular cannabis smokers may be at higher risk for bronchitis or poor lung function than non-smokers. Finally, Cannabis is addictive resulting in cannabis use disorder. The need for the best environment for the optimal development of children’s brains is why it is so critical that pregnant women and children not use marijuana.

Finally, one more unintended consequence of marijuana use is drug-impaired driving. Cannabis is the most common illicit drug detected among drivers. One study found that the percentage of weekend nighttime drivers that tested positive for cannabis rose from 8.6% in 2007 to 12.6% in 2014, a 48% increase. In addition, poly-use of cannabis with other substances, particularly alcohol, contributes to increased levels of impaired driving.

Adolescents whose parents have used cannabis within the past year are at greater risk of using cannabis themselves than adolescents whose parents have never used cannabis, demonstrating the powerful influence parents have on their children’s substance use decision making. Parents continue to be the most important individuals in their children(s) lives in all areas including prevention of drug and alcohol use.

For these and many other reasons, Butte Cares urges a "no" vote on recreational marijuana legalization.

If you are looking for more information I would strongly encourage you to review the work of the following:

• Nora Volkow National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

• John Underwood Athletic Institute

Also, on August 29, 2019 Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a public health warning on Marijuana here is the link: I would encourage you to view it.

Also, in this recorded webinar by an employment attorney and drug testing company representative, one of the facts presented in the video is the history of marijuana and why it was illegal even before the Controlled Substance Act enacted by the Federal Government.

I would also encourage you to view the video by Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy who discuss the truth about addictions and marijuana.

Finally, Bertha K Madras professor of psychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry and the chair of the Division of Neurochemistry at Harvard Medical School during her presentations at the CADCA conferences in 2018 and 2020 frames marijuana in the context - in defense of the Brain.

If you have reviewed the previously referenced material you will hopefully come to the true conclusion.

Pat Prendergast is president of Butte Cares Inc.


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